From April the major South African fresh produce industries will increasingly join the export season – with peak exports of citrus and apples and pear expected between June and July. This will also be the time when export logistics will be under most pressure.

Red grapes

The citrus sector has issued its first forecast of close to 160 million cartons for the season – but warned that this may well be adjusted downwards if the record exports of soft citrus do not materialize. Industry leaders warned that recent heavy rains in the north of the country and drought in parts of the Eastern Cape may well affect the forecast. Nevertheless, soft citrus exports from South Africa is set to show another huge jump this year, with the export crop – at this stage – being estimated as 29% bigger than last year. Lemons and Navel Oranges will roughly be on the same level as last year – with only modest increased, while grape fruit and valencia’s is set to grow.

Recent bad weather in the apple growing regions of Elgin and Vyeboom has reportedly caused isolated damage – with Hortgro saying there is no need to adjust their forecast at this stage. For both apples and pears South Africa expects another record volume this year.

The avocado season is well underway and the first fruit has arrived in Europe and the UK. South Africa is expecting an export crop increase compared to last year, despite it being an ‘off-year’ (in avo terms) this year. The increase is attributed to more new orchards coming into bearing.

The grape export crop, now in its final weeks, is still expected to top 67 million cartons, which will be a record volume if achieved. Recent rains and the availability of containers are making this difficult for growers and shippers in the final weeks of the harvest.

The stone fruit season, which has so far reportedly been a positive one, is also in its final weeks.